Jul 24

Happy Anniversary ADA!

On my grandfather Abraham’s deathbed, he told me that I was lucky to have access to multiple kinds of modern technology. He envied me for having the ability to communicate with the Deaf and hearing using videophone technology.

During most of his life, Abraham’s only ability to communicate with the hearing world was through crude methods, such as gesturing and writing on a piece of paper using a pencil/pen. It was not until the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed the civil rights legislation in 1990 that Abraham was finally able to communicate with my father from his home through the videophone.

The ADA of 1990 features five different titles that enables and protects rights for individuals with disabilities. Titles II, III, and IV are very important clauses of the legislation that enforces effective communication for people like me.

State and Local Government – Title II (Section 7), Public Accommodations – Title III (Section 36), and Telecommunications – Title IV of the ADA initiated the floodgates of access for people with hearing loss. The Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind, Intelligent and Cognitive challenged, as well as many others rely on this act which provides the ability to join the norms of mainstream America life.

With the ongoing evolution of communication technology for people similar to myself, I discovered my calling for promoting equal communication access for all. Nowadays, there is an immense wealth of information readily available to anyone, however, not all are accessible.

Invented in the mid-1960s, the cumbersome TeleTypewriter (known as the TTY), gave Deaf people the ability to independently communicate over the telephone. While the TTY was an innovative invention, the Deaf were unable to express their emotions, nuances of facial expression and body language, and clarity while conversing with others. Approximately 15 years later, TTY relay services were established, giving Deaf people the ability to communicate with hearing people by making a TTY call to an operator (with a TTY), who then verbally communicated messages over the telephone to the listener and vice versa. For more than four decades, the TTY facilitated telephone communication for millions of people.

The passage of the ADA contributed to the widespread implementation of videophones, allowing Deaf people to communicate through the use of a camera and a television. Quality of conversations were drastically improved as visual barriers were lifted, allowing Deaf people to see facial expressions and many other non-manual markers that could not be detected through faceless communication.

Videophone technology prompted the birth of the Video Relay Service (VRS) industry, which utilizes American Sign Language interpreters to facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing callers. Regulation of VRS is headed by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), which also oversees Telecommunication Relay Services. This industry generates approximately almost one billion dollars annually.

Due to the high demand for face-to-face (direct) communication using sign language over the telephone, the FCC is implementing direct services for the deaf, which enables the Deaf to have first party communication over the telephone without having to use in-person sign language interpreters. The FCC has received so many phone calls from people who want to comment, file, and inquire about anything regarding to their communication access. Microsoft, an independent technology business entity, recently launched their own direct services program for the Deaf and has begun hiring people with sign language skills to provide the services. Direct services are generating customer relationship management job opportunities for people with American Sign Language skills.

Technology innovation allows communication through various mediums such as texting, instant messaging, electronic mail (e-mail), telephones, and more. The ADA helps to ensure effective communication is accessible to all. We have been working diligently to make communication more mainstream for everyone.

Despite the advances in technology, there are still ongoing communication barriers. The following are some modes of alternative communication access, as well as its pros and cons, and scenarios where communication inequality can prove to be an impediment.

  • Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a great tool for people who need immediate communication access while they wait for sign language interpreters to arrive at the premises. This cost-effective technology often hinders people’s ability for clear communication due to its environmental limitations and technological challenges. Often, large institutions are quick to replace sign language interpreters with VRI services in order to meet the “effective communication” compliance required by the law without asking their consumers which mode of communication they prefer.

  • Communication access real-time translation (CART) is widely available and utilized in educational institutions, conferences, courts, and more. Beneficial to many and considered as part of effective communication, CART is designed for one-way communication. The reader may not be able to ask questions verbally and receives responses in the transcript.

  • Captioning, widely seen on televisions, is not being effectively used for online media, such as the Internet, YouTube, etc. Over 40 million people with hearing loss are excluded from enjoying and learning from the assortment of information and videos out there. Currently, Google is working on an automatic captioning functionality within their systems to be used in YouTube videos. Multiple interactive online courses provided by colleges and universities have not yet implemented captions on videos and voice-interactive chat room discussions for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and hard of hearing students. How can these students take the course and be expected to participate remotely? Obviously, this aspect of technology needs improvement.

The distribution of information outside of the home still has a long way to go to become accessible. For example, during disasters, the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and hard of hearing are often left in the dark when it comes to receiving alerts and information requiring immediate action. To date, our communities are still relying on sirens, loudspeakers, radio communication, audible notifications, and more. Technology may be advanced, however, it still relies on power sources, such as electricity. Once the power goes out, technology is rendered useless, except for radio communication, resulting in grave consequences for us.

While traveling abroad, communication is often not accessible due to various limitations that could easily be remedied. Most signage, set up for any visual notifications, are not often constantly maintained. Examples include change in flight information not being displayed on the television and road/highway marquees stating generic instead of detailed information. Hearing people are able to run to the correct terminal or gate and divert their driving route, while we, the Deaf, are often stuck and go through unnecessary hassle.

Seeking professional assistance from small and private practitioners in both the medical and legal fields can be difficult, as they often resist and refuse to provide sign language interpreters due to ignorance or feeling like this imposes an undue burden of cost.

Please take a moment to recognize the changes that have occurred due to the ADA legislation. So many things have improved since the TTY, yet we have so much work ahead of us. My grandfather Abraham, who lived through the era of the TTY and the very beginning of the videophone, believed that we were fortunate to be blessed with the advances of equal communication access.

These communication barriers I mentioned are barely scratching the surface what we actually endure on a daily basis. In violation of the ADA, the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing are continually being isolated from the general population. We have a long ways to go to achieve 100 percent accessible communication. It is my passion to continue being a staunch advocate for promoting effective communication access for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing people.

Let’s celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Jun 14

Are you going to be a good fit to our team?

Talks about application process that includes character assessment in it.

(captioned, can be enabled on desktop or smart phone by clicking “cc” button in your video playhead (where the cursor is) )


May 30

Musing about Deaf Disempowerment and Today’s Interpreters

Musing about Deaf Disempowerment and Today's Interpreters

Published on May 23, 2013
Today’s interpreters (ASL) and their practices within our community.


Jun 01

Community within community

Closed Captioned

(Correction: My math is definitely off – 10,000 pennies not 10 million and 1% instead of 10 population. Pardon me. 😉 )


Apr 01

ASL and English = Champ Languages!

[Duration: 2:43]

Mar 24

4201 Budget Crisis – Update

8 more days left before Governor Cuomo decides the budget plan for New York State which may include some budget cuts toward to 4201 Schools. See how you can help…

Transcript —

Some updates about 4201 budget crisis –

In nutshell, many of us have sent letters, made calls, and attended rally to address the budgetary proposal made by Governor Cuomo which includes budget cuts toward to 4201 schools.

During this deliberate process, both parties (Senate and Assembly) have sent their version of budget proposal to Governor Cuomo’s office. The Senate has recommended keeping budget for 4201 intact with a total of 98 million dollars while the Assembly also has recommended restoring budget for 4201 schools with a total of 90 million (approx 8 million less than originally proposed.) dollars.

The Governor’s office will reassess both proposals and determine the next course of action. The office will either determine whether the proposals from Legislators deem acceptable or not.

Some of you may be aware of Governor Cuomo’s position on his budgetary proposal. He’s determined to cut approximately 10 billion dollars of State budget. He appears to be standing on his feet determined to see this to happen. It’s clearly understood that he wish to maintain state-wide unity and tries to deliver his promise to save 10 billion dollars for following year. His office will need to figure how they can make some cuts.

Meanwhile, you may be wondering what we are doing right now? How can you contribute in this effort? Just keep continuing to make every effort to contact Governor Cuomo’s office and inform them we are here to protect the funding for 4201 schools. The Governor should not impose any budgetary cuts toward 4201 schools. You could make several (many, this would be better) calls to Governor’s office and address your concern, write emails and letters to them.

Try to be persisting about this, to remind him that we must not allow him cut any budgets toward to 4201 schools.

As you may know, April 1st is the target date for ratifying proposed budget by Governor’s office. Either Governor Cuomo accept the combined (or diluted) proposed budget by legislators into law, or may face government shut down which is not going to be pleasant for everyone in New York State.

Please be persist in reaching Governor Cuomo’s office and show your support in keeping funding for 4201 schools intact.

Mar 16

Report on the Amended State Fiscal Year 2011-12 Executive Budget

Below is the link where our Senate has made their revisions in Governor Cuomo’s latest Budget which also addresses 4201 budget issue.

Link: 2011 Revised Budget from Senate

Page 11 – Aid To Localities (S.2803-C) – 6th Bullet – “The Senate denies the Executives cost shift to local districts for the Blind and Deaf 4201 schools this restoration is $98 million.”

Page 12 – Article VII proposals – 2nd bullet – “The Senate denies the Executive’s proposal to shift the state share of funding for 4201 schools for the Blind and Deaf to district of residence.”

Again, thanks to Jonathan Dollhopf for sharing this with us.

Mar 16


Below is the link where our Assembly has made their own proposal in modification of Governor Cuomo’s latest Budget which also addresses 4201 budget issue.

Link: 2011 Assembly Proposed Budget

Page 9 – right column ( near bottom of page) – “Schools for the Blind and Deaf (4201 Schools) 90,800,000″

Page 45 – Aid to Localities section – 3rd bullet: “The Assembly rejects the Executive’s proposal to change the status of Blind and Deaf schools from primarily State supported schools to approved private schools for students with disabilities. The Assembly rejects the cost shift to school districts and restores $90,800,000.”

Page 46 – Article VII – 2nd bullet – “The Assembly rejects the Executive proposal to reclassify State Supported Schools for the Blind and Deaf into approved private schools for students with disabilities and the associated cost shift onto school districts.”

Thanks to Jonathan Dollhopf for sharing this with us.

Feb 25

What’s “4201 Schools”?

vlog about 4201 schools. What is New York State Governor Cuomo suggesting in his budgetary proposal that impacts on 4201 schools? (Video is captioned.)


Feb 23

Radio Panel discussion with “That Keith Wann Show” about 4201 schools

Transcript as below:

>> In its quest to provide an open forum for discussion of
controversial issues, this station allows hosts and their guests to
express themselves without any significant censorship. You are
advised that any view expressed by the hosts or their guests are not
necessarily the views of the owners or management of Toginet Radio,
Togi Entertainment, or the Owners Group, Inc.
>> Yes, indeed, ladies and gentlemen, it’s on! It’s on like the one
and only Keith Wann!
>> Y’all wave your hands. Look who’s on. It’s the CODA Man Keith,
and he’s Number Wann!
>> Now, you might think Wann’s youth was sad, because he had a Deaf
dear mummy and dad. But that ain’t the case. It wasn’t his fate.
No, the Wanns never struggled to communicate! Wann don’t trip, man.
Never had a choice. So he transformed hands right into great voice.
Deaf Brother Wann make many peeps laugh. Now the kids want to get
Wann hot autograph!
>> Y’all wave your hands. Look who’s on! It’s the CODA Man Keith,
and he’s Number Wann!
>> Welcome to That Keith Wann Show! Like the song says, Keith’s
parents were Deaf, but that hasn’t slowed him down one bit. He’s a
comedian, writer, ASL expert, and he is the CODA Man. From YouTube to
the movies, Keith Wann is on. And now it’s time for That Keith Wann
Show on Toginet.com. Keith is all about building cultural bridges
that enhance understanding and establish trust between communities.
Guests will include ASL performing artists, interpreters, teachers,
and other ASL community members. Listen with an open mind and
willingness to learn, and help with a cultural bridge. It’s That
Keith Wann Show on Toginet.com. And now here’s your host, Keith Wann!
>> Number, Number Wann. Keith’s Number Wann.

KEITH: I have decided, I’m gonna become the Larry King of the ASL
world. When you get to tonight’s topic, you’ll understand more. It’s
a political topic. But before we get there, let’s check in with
Windell. Hey, Wink. How are you doing?

WINDELL: Heyyyyy… Buddy.

KEITH: We’ve got a little Pauley Shore going on, huh? How have you

WINDELL: I’ve been good, Keith. I’ve been good.

KEITH: How did the CODA365 fundraiser go last Saturday?

WINDELL: It went very well. We were sold out. We had about 200
people there. The workshops went well. Or the workshop went well.
People had a really great time. They got their food. People
entertained. It went really well, I think. I think it was a
successful fundraiser.

KEITH: Awesome. We have another event coming up on April 30th.
People in the Tampa Bay Area, come out and support CODA365. It’s all
about using American Sign Language in the house. How did you learn

WINDELL: Well… The first thing that my dad did for me was he got
the book that’s entitled the joy of signing, and he burned it.


( laughing )

WINDELL: And he said never look at this book again. But no…
Basically, just vicariously. My parents used it. They were Deaf.
They used it around the house. Both of them couldn’t really speak for
themselves, so I never really had that confusion there. It wasn’t
them speaking and signing at the same time and me responding back in
this hodgepodge… Really, it’s not even ASL. You know, this type of
system with spoken English. And so in order for me to convey my
wants, I had to learn how to communicate like theydid. I mean, if I
wanted to buy a toy, my dad would ask you… Why do you want this toy?
I couldn’t just speak to him and say — ’cause it’s awesome! I would
have to explain to him why it was awesome in Sign Language. And that
was one of the defining points for me. My dad wanted me to express
myself through American Sign Language, and also he modeled the
language to me perfectly. He knew my register at each individual
ages, and also he challenged me. He challenged me to go a little bit
more… Higher, in the use of ASL.

KEITH: So you were in an environment that had ASL. You were in an
environment that supported ASL.

WINDELL: Absolutely.

KEITH: That’s gonna come up a little bit later on tonight too, when
we talk to our guests. But yeah, I wasn’t the best signer growing up.
I actually finger spelled a lot, but my mom and dad just kept exposing
me. Like your parents, my mom and dad couldn’t speak for themselves.
They were so Deaf Deaf and so absolutely I had to learn American Sign
Language, and we used it in the house. I was fortunate enough that we
grew up in a big Deaf community in Northern California, in the West
Coast Bay Area, and we went to Deaf church, lived in Deaf apartments,
and so I was surrounded by the support. I was surrounded by the

WINDELL: Absolutely. And I think that that’s one of the key things,
is seeing not only your parents sign, but other Deaf individuals in
your community sign. Because everyone has a different accent or a
different style. They learned it differently, or however. And that
really challenges your receptive abilities of understanding what these
other people, who are communicating to you, that you don’t necessarily
see every day, help you try to understand what they’re talking about.
And I think that’s the key, is the multiple exposures to the language.
Modeling it. Having different models. And I think that also will
play into tonight’s conversation. We’re really doing a really long
teaser here.

KEITH: But I think this kind of goes back to CODA365. In line with
our philosophy too. After our shows, a lot of Deaf parents say we
want our kids to be fluent signers too. How do you guys do it? And
we watch these parents turn to their 10-year-old kid and vocalize to
them. That’s one of the first things we say — you can talk for
yourself and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you’re showing your
kid that talking is better than Sign Language. You’re not exposing
them to Sign Language. Like I said earlier, I was a sloppy signer,
but around 18, 19 years old, all the ASL I grew up with clicked. It
started coming out of me. But if Deaf parents are not modeling that
to their own hearing children, they can’t expect their hearing
children to produce that ASL.

WINDELL: Absolutely. Whenever they start speaking, instead of
signing, the child is focusing on trying to understand their speech,
not their sign. And, you know, the majority… I mean, I could say
that probably less than… Trying to be a conservative number… Less
than 5% of Deaf individuals who are profoundly Deaf can actually have
effective speech. The majority do not. So the child is laboring over
trying to understand what the speech is, and not the Sign Language…
Is concerned. And yeah, you said it beautifully. It models that
speech is more important than the language that I naturally have, of
Sign Language, which is really a reverse psychology, in a way.
Because the Deaf community has been forced into these oral methods,
and then they turn around and use it on their hearing kids. It’s such
an interesting philosophy. Or an interesting little… Not
philosophy, but the psychology of it. Yeah.

KEITH: I know both of us joke about this topic in our comedy acts,
and even in your one man show. I wanted to go to a Deaf school
growing up. I did not want to go to a Hearing school. Because I grew
up in the Deaf community. I’m Deaf in mind. I’m Deaf in heart. I
wanted to go to a Deaf school. It was a traumatic experience to go to
a Hearing school, and for you, even more.

WINDELL: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I despised school. If I had an
understanding of what fire could do, I would probably burn down the
school. Just because I did hate it that much. I mean, I fought
administrators, I fought teachers. Yeah. I hated school. I just
didn’t like the concept of using my voice all day. It’s tiring. It’s

KEITH: So for people — for adults, for people like our parents, they
grew up going to schools for the Deaf. My mom went to Berkeley School
for the Deaf in Northern California, which in 1981, it moved to
Fremont, so that’s still the Northern California school. And then we
have riverside in Southern California. And I believe your parents
went to a Deaf school too?

WINDELL: My dad went to the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Oklahoma,
obviously. It was in sulfur, which is… Now there’s a little bit of
a population there, but before, there was a population of just the
school and the administrators of the school, basically. And that’s an
interesting psychology, and probably an issue that we might touch on
later tonight, is how a lot of Deaf schools really have been
established to be segregated from the mainstream population. In rural
Oklahoma — we’re talking rural Oklahoma, where sulfur is — there’s
bigger towns that surround sulfur, that they could have put the Deaf
school at. My mom was mainstreamed. She actually went into a public
school. And she was required to do a lot of speech therapy. Which —
did you have to do that? I did. Growing up.

KEITH: Actually, yes. I did too. In first and second grade, I had
to go to speech therapy classes.

WINDELL: Yeah, I had to go through speech therapy classes too. It
was interesting.

KEITH: So for my mom — and we’re not taking a position tonight.
We’re not saying mainstream is better than Deaf school, Deaf school is
better than mainstream. But for some of the population, for my mom,
she needed the Deaf school. She thrived there. She still has friends
from her days at the Deaf school. Everything she learned was from
there. I sometimes try to place myself… try to think… If I was to
go to school… And I had incidental learning. I was able to pick up
all the information from my teacher, from the other students, from the
cafeteria lady, from the PE coach, all these sources of information,
if that was all to be funneled through one source, via the interpreter
in a mainstream setting, I don’t know how I would have done.

WINDELL: Yeah. You know, just real quickly, before we break, a place
where I used to live… The Deaf school — and like you said, we’re
not taking a stand, but I think it is very location dependent. If the
Deaf school, for lack of a better word, is not a good program, either
they have bad teachers there, or recruitment for good teachers is not
there, their curriculum is old — however, and the people decide not
to — and also the school may be too far from a metropolitan, and they
decide not to send their kid to the Deaf school, they might turn
around and put them in a mainstream program. The mainstream program
might even be worse. You might have people who can’t sign, who are
oppressive, and are not providing the least restrictive environment,
which the law requires. So now… Where I lived, parents were
actually sending their kids out of state to get the education that
they deserve. To Maryland. To the Maryland School for the Deaf,
because the Deaf school wasn’t capable of providing their needs, even
the mainstream program. So I think it’s a very big problem.

KEITH: Absolutely, and our topic tonight is Deaf schools. We’re
gonna talk about the New York Deaf schools. When we come back from
break, we have a panel of distinguished Deaf guests. And again, with
the mainstream setting. There’s a problem out there. There’s a lot
of great interpreters. We need to have the best interpreters in
there. There’s a lot of great teachers for the Deaf, but also there’s
a white elephant in the room. A lot of bad interpreters out there. A
lot of education is not happening. When we come back from break,
we’re gonna talk about Deaf schools.

>> This is That Keith Wann Show! Opening doors, shining the light,
building bridges, educating us all. It’s the CODA Man, Keith Wann, and
we’ll back with more, right after these!
>> Number, number Wann! Keith’s Number Wann! Everybody clap, ’cause
the CODA Man’s on. Number, number Wann! Keith’s Number Wann! Everybody
clap, ’cause the CODA Man’s on.
>> Are you a professional Sign Language interpreter or in an
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This year, TERPexpo will be in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Baltimore,
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TERPexpo.Com. Oh yeah, our evening entertainment programs are
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>> Windell Smith, CEO of Project N.A.D.I.N.E.
>> Project N.A.D.I.N.E. is actually an acronym for the National
Advocates on Deafness to Inform, Network, and Enrich. We’re a
non-profit organization that began in 2008. We’ve set a goal of
providing comprehensive and collaborative resources for parents with
Deaf children, and fostering leadership and advocacy within the Deaf
community, and educating the general public about the beauty and value
of Deaf Culture, and its natural language, which is American Sign
Language. For more information, please go to www.projectnadine.org.
>> At CEUs On The Go, we are committed to the professional
development of interpreters. As an approved RID-CNP sponsor, CEUs On
The Go provides a variety of services to assist the certified
interpreter in obtaining their CEUs. Our main products are
instructional articles and videos, which are online and on-demand
activities. They can be done from the comfort of your own home, or
during a break between assignments. It’s that simple! So check us
out on the web at www.ceusonthego.com.
>> Have you ever wondered what your baby was saying? Weehands offers
local and online sign language classes for parents and caregivers who
want to communicate. My name is Persis, and I can give you the tools
you need to make learning fun! Email me at persis@weehands.com or
leave a message at 404-409-2040.
Weehands! Come sign with us!
>> Y’all wave your hands. Look who’s on! It’s the CODA Man Keith,
and he’s Number Wann!
>> Welcome back to That Keith Wann Show. He’s here to help us with a
cultural bridge between the Hearing and the Deaf, with guests from the
American Sign Language community and others who are here to share,
encourage, and to teach. Now let’s get back to the show. It’s That
Keith Wann Show on Toginet. And here again is your host, Keith Wann.

KEITH: Good evening. And we’re back. And so Windell and I have been
doing a really long teaser. We’ve pretty much been talking about our
experience too, but our topic tonight is what’s currently going on in
the State of New York. We have Arlene Rice as our interpreter
tonight. And she will be interpreterring for Sean Gerlis, Linda
Mosca-Ginis, and Alexis Kashar. Sean, are you there?

SEAN (interpreter): Yes, I am. Thanks for inviting me.

KEITH: Thanks. As this panel leader, can you go ahead and give us
the background on yourself and the other two guests?

SEAN (interpreter): I’d be more than happy to do that. I will
summarize my background, and I think I should let Alexis and Linda
speak for themselves, and I think it’ll work best for all of us. I
live in New York. I’m a third generation Deaf family member. And I’m
involved in the National Association for the Deaf, on the board. New
York has an issue, and they’ve asked me to get involved, because also
it’s my back too. And especially my son will be going to one of those
schools. So I’m very invested to this cause right now. Alexis?

ALEXIS (interpreter): Hi. This is Alexis. Currently, I am the
president of the board of the New York School for the Deaf. I am
extremely angry at this entire process. I really appreciate you
giving us the opportunity to have this discussion about this very
important topic this evening.

LINDA (interpreter): Hi, Keith. This is Linda. And I’m also from a
large Deaf family. Most of our family graduated from the New York
School for the Deaf. I’m an alumna, and I’ve worked here for almost
30 years. We have to fight for our Deaf children. And we appreciate
the opportunity to be here tonight. Thank you so much.

KEITH: Absolutely. So let’s jump right on in. What is being
proposed by governor Cuomo?

SEAN (interpreter): Okay, this is Sean. Currently the governor is
looking for ways to save money and cut costs. So he looks at
education, and he makes those cuts, and then he noticed a special law,
which was created 193 years ago, to protect these 11 schools in the
State of New York. There are three different categories within that
category. Deaf and hard of hearing, the blind, and physically
disabled. They’re mobility handicapped. Should the governor realize
that the state is committed to funding those 11 schools, and has been
for many, many, many years, and he felt — you know, I think I’m gonna
cut it. Cut the funding and empower the local school districts to
take care of the Deaf children. So we are here to try and stop that
action from happening.

ALEXIS (interpreter): This is Alexis. Would it be okay if I
elaborated on the details of that proposal?

KEITH: Please do.

ALEXIS (interpreter): Basically, it’s an unfunded mandate on school
districts. Due to the lack of understanding on the part of the people
who wrote the proposal, they’re basically underestimating the costs of
sending the children back to their local school districts. Basically,
they’re removing all the rights from the teachers of the Deaf and the
administration of the schools for the Deaf, who work with these
children, to have any right to assist them, and any right to recommend
a placement for those students. It eliminates the right to empower
the children entirely. This is all happening through a change in the
methodology of how they fund the appropriation. Currently the school
is getting an appropriation directly from the State of New York.
They’re proposing to change it to something that’s referred to as a
rate setting method. That rate setting method requires the school
district to pay a tuition rate, in order to send the student from the
district to the School for the Deaf. And we all know that that is not
going to happen. Because the school districts have budgets that are
all being cut themselves. So our children will be stuck in the land
of nowhere. Without services in their local school district, without
access to their educational curriculum. Without access to their
peers. And that is basically what’s happening through that proposal.

KEITH: And this is Keith. I wanna remind our listeners the call-in
number is 877-864-4869. So Alexis, and I know the Deaf community is
outraged at this, but are the school districts actually… Aren’t they
in support of this? Because don’t they get higher reimbursement rates
for having Deaf students in their district?

ALEXIS (interpreter): Basically, that’s not what will happen.
They’re not going to get the money. It won’t be paid to the school
anymore. They’re not gonna get that money. It’s an unfunded mandate.
It’s a shift of the cost of educating Deaf children to the school
district, without any increase in their funding. In fact, most of
their special education money is being cut.

SEAN (interpreter): This is Sean, and I would like to add to what
Alexis has said. Okay. Right now the school districts are facing
their own budget cuts. With those cuts that they have to deal with,
they have to work it out, and now they have extra baggage. They’re
gonna have to provide psychology services, medical professionals,
treatments, teachers, interpreters, for one student.

ALEXIS (interpreter): And their IEPs, which historically has been
developed in New York by the School for the Deaf, in conjunction with
the school district — however, now all those costs of the assessment
are being shifted to the school district. And they’re not getting the
funding. They’re cutting them, and now they have to pay out of pocket
for all those services, maybe for one student. In some cases two. At
the most, probably three, in the predominant number of districts. So
in a nutshell, we have one central place for the money, where we can
coordinate saving the money in the State of New York. Now the
governor is asking for people to pay more money. For one student, in
separate districts, instead of at the School for the Deaf.

KEITH: And I’m thinking, along with — your term extra baggage…
Yeah. So Sign Language interpreters. There’s a huge shortage right
now on Sign Language interpreters, so of course if you send these kids
to their local districts in the mainstream way, they’re gonna need to
get interpreters for all these students. There’s just not that many
out there.

ALEXIS (interpreter): You’re absolutely right. This is Alexis. I
figured we had about — approximately a thousand students in the
state. And say 500 of them have to be fully mainstreamed. Six hours
a day, 40 weeks a year. I don’t know how they’re gonna find those 500
interpreters. Or pay for those 500 interpreters.

KEITH: Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s not even included in the
estimate, is it? Wow. I didn’t even think about that. Let me ask
the panel here. Some people… Some uneducated people out there are
saying… What’s the big deal? A state like Texas only has one School
for the Deaf. Why should New York have nine different schools for the
Deaf? Three or four of them in the New York City area? What would
your response be to that?

SEAN (interpreter): Okay. This is Sean. The law was created after
New York School for the Deaf was founded. The people at the state
level saw the benefit of the School for the Deaf back then, 190 years
ago, and they saw what they contributed to their local areas. So over
time, they established other schools, due to the transportation issue.
It was a location issue. So they set up all these schools, and
they’ve been existing all these years. We can’t speak for the other
states, but here in New York, truly they were sensitive to the concept
of the disabled community, and they supported them to get equal access
in an environment where language was exactly accessible. So even the
schools for the blind and the physically disabled were treated the
same way. Now they wanna undo 190 years of hard work. Oh my God,
what is wrong with them?

KEITH: And again, I know there’s a name for this. I believe it’s…
4201. What do those numbers represent?

SEAN (interpreter): That’s the name of the school association. It’s
called the 4201 school association. But the law itself that
established the schools was section 4201 of the law. So many people
refer to the Deaf schools as part of the 4201 school association. But
really it’s a group of schools for the Deaf, under that law. It’s
part of the New York State special education law. Section 4201.

KEITH: We have 30 seconds coming up to break. We’re gonna come up
and talk to you more. Can you give us a website for our listeners to
go to, during the commercial break?

LINDA (interpreter): Yes. This is Linda. Www.deafnyaction.org.

KEITH: Perfect. You know what? We’re gonna go to break now. When
we come back from break, we’ll talk more with Sean, Alexis, Linda,
Windell, and our wonderful interpreter, Arlene. Thank you.

>> This is That Keith Wann Show! Opening doors, shining the light,
building bridges, educating us all. It’s the CODA Man, Keith Wann, and
we’ll be back with more, right after these!
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>> Welcome back to That Keith Wann Show. He’s here to help us with a
cultural bridge between the Hearing and the Deaf, with guests from the
American Sign Language community and others who are here to share,
encourage, and to teach. Now let’s get back to the show. It’s That
Keith Wann Show on Toginet. And here again is your host, Keith Wann.

KEITH: And we’re back. I love our commercials. They focus on the
ASL community, services, cruises, interpreters, ADA. So I think we
have a caller. Lee? Lee, you’re on the air.

>> Yeah. Well…

>> Okay. I have a question. I wanted to know about a broken down
sheet. It’s like, relating to the cost. Like, the cost expenses for
a student to go to 4201 school? As compared to those who are local
school. Like, a local school. Like, the expenses.

KEITH: Sure. Sean, are you able to answer that?

>> Hiring an interpreter. And then also the teachers of the Deaf,
hiring. And so comparing the costs. So, like, the factor involved,
when there’s a cost related to sending them to the dorms and the
programs and if it costs more to send them to a local school. But
would it impact — would it be an impact on the students who went to a
local school? In a local school district? I mean, I know it’s not
required to go to the dorms, the program, but, I mean, would it make a
big impact on them, themselves, if they go to a 4201 school, that’s
really, really close by their home? How would it impact them? And
would it cost as much for them? As opposed to somebody who lives
really far away, and maybe would cost a lot more? If that was what…
I mean, what would happen?

KEITH: Sure. Let’s go ahead and have Sean answer that, or anybody
from our panel. Sean, are you there?

SEAN (interpreter): Okay, sure. That’s a good question. We’re faced
with many, many different levels of cost and expense. It’s too much
to really go into that level of detail on this show, but we can put
that information elsewhere. Because with locations — New York City,
opposed to Rochester, the costs are very different. Like, you
mentioned the dorm and housing and transportation. Some places will
pay to fly their students back and forth. So it’s very varied, and
it’s a very complex question. I wish we could be more helpful in that
response, but from a holistic approach, it’s cheaper to have one
central place than dispersing the students to so many different school

KEITH: Lee, do you have a follow-up?

>> Yes. That’s actually right. You know, schools like Rochester
School for the Deaf — that’s one main area, and that services almost
140 students. So, I mean, if you interfere and try to cut that
and prevent them coming to this area that would end up costing more.
And that approach just doesn’t sound right. Like, it would just… It
would have to budget more. And that’s something we would have to look
at. So thank you very much. Lee?

KEITH: And Sean — thank you, Lee. Thank you very much for calling.
Sean, where can people go right now to get more information about
this, and where to let their voices be seen?

SEAN (interpreter): Okay. Alexis, would you like to answer? We’re
having a little discussion. Actually… If they’re looking for the
cost breakdown, you can go to the New York State budget office, and
they would be able to share that information. And it should be online

ALEXIS (interpreter): This is Alexis. If you’re talking about the
proposal, the governor’s budget proposal itself is posted on deafnyaction.org. It’s under one of the tabs. I think it says… What is being proposed. And you click on there, and you’ll find the proposal itself.

KEITH: And what are the most common issues that most officials are
not aware of, with this proposal?

ALEXIS (interpreter): This is Alexis. Like I said, they’re
definitely underestimating the cost of inclusion. Inclusion is
probably right for many populations. And even some deaf and hard of
hearing students. But not for the populations who are already in
schools for the Deaf in New York State. But obviously somebody at the
governor’s level wants to make sure that the students are all included
at any cost in the public schools. Not only — they’re forgetting
about the cost of, you know, the interpreters, the teachers of the
deaf, the speech teacher, but also the expense of these children who
would have to suffer so much from the loss of access to peers, loss of
access to their teachers, and loss of access to an entire school
environment. And then if they have to be at the mercy of a Sign
Language interpreter — who, by the way, we hope will be a good
interpreter, or that they at least find an interpreter.

KEITH: Go ahead, Windell.

WINDELL: So there was some really interesting research that has come
out of NITD about how Deaf people learn. And it focuses more on the
spital… I hope I’m pronouncing that right… Spital memory of Deaf
children. So now they’re proposing that we educate our Deaf
individuals in a different way than how we educate the Hearing
children. So how do you think that this will be impacted? If further
research is to be done, and actually, curriculums are to be developed,
how archaic is the mainstream system in New York? Or is it a fairly
good one? What kind of blowback can we expect to see out of the
mainstream programs? Putting the interpreter aside, how are the Deaf
Ed programs in mainstream?

ALEXIS (interpreter): This is Alexis. Mainstream programs are not
adapted for the needs of Deaf children. The Deaf child needs to adapt
themselves, and fit into the mainstream program. There is no way the
curriculum could be appropriate for an ordinary Deaf child who needs
to have his education provided in a visual manner.

SEAN (interpreter): This is Sean. And I’d like to add: What Alexis
is describing as the visual manner is the language. And that’s what
the mainstream lacks. They are not equipped to provide total language
accessibility for children who rely on visuals.

LINDA (interpreter): And direct communication. In their own
language. American Sign Language. In a Deaf environment. There is
nothing that compares to a Deaf environment in the public schools.

SEAN (interpreter): This is Sean here. And to follow up on Alexis’
comment about the government officials being clueless, what they don’t
understand: That social development for each child… They put them
in the mainstream schools. Those children will not be able to be
socially wise. And they will lose their communication abilities.
It’s not just the education in the mainstream. Here we use a holistic
approach. And that is the most important thing that they’re not aware
of. They don’t realize. They have girlfriends and boyfriends back
then in high school, and they used to have dates and play games. But
then if you brought a Deaf person into the family, if they were dating
a Deaf person, they would freak out. The families from the public
schools would say… You know, it doesn’t matter whether they’re
brilliant or not. It’s the communication of American Sign Language
that they so desperately need.

ALEXIS (interpreter): And this is Alexis. I’d like to add one more
thing. All of this is a violation of the federal law, called IDEA.
Individuals with disabilities education act. The law — that law —
requires that there are different placement options, and they must be
offered. Of course, it depends on the child’s need. By removing
schools for the Deaf in New York State from the picture, they’re
narrowing the option range. And that is a violation of the federal
law. And as a result of that, we are going to have a huge number of
litigation and an excessive amount of costs involved. Parents will
sue the school districts for failure to provide appropriate education
for their children. And it will go on and on and on.

SEAN (interpreter): Which will bring the costs way up. More than
what governor Cuomo has bargained for. It is a very short sighted
plan on the part of the governor.

LINDA (interpreter): And I certainly hope that he thinks twice before
proceeding with his proposal.

KEITH: I don’t think we’ve mentioned yet the list of schools out
there. We have a lot of alumni in our chat room with our live
captioning, done by Mirabai Knight from StenoKnight.com. Can you list
the names of the schools for the Deaf that are being affected?

LINDA (interpreter): Sure. This is Linda. New York School for the
Deaf. Fanwood. The Lexington School for the Deaf. Mill Neck School
for the Deaf. St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf. St. Francis School
for the Deaf. The Cleary School for the Deaf. New York State School
for the Deaf in Rome, Rochester School for the Deaf, and St. Mary’s
School for the Deaf in Buffalo.

WINDELL: So basically almost all of them. Wow.

SEAN (interpreter): And there’s the Henry Viscardi school for the
blind and the New York Institute for special education, which is also
for people with disabilities, and that makes 11 schools in total.

KEITH: We’ve got ten seconds. We’re going into break. When we come
back, we’ll talk more with Sean, Alexis, and Linda. Right now at my
main radio site there are some links to YouTube and links to the New
York — to the websites with more information. So during the break,
please take a peek, and we’ll come back. We’ll talk more with our
guests from New York.

>> This is That Keith Wann Show! Opening doors, shining the light,
building bridges, educating us all. It’s the CODA Man, Keith Wann, and
we’ll back with more, right after these!
>> Number, number Wann! Keith’s Number Wann! Everybody clap, ’cause
the CODA Man’s on. Number, number Wann! Keith’s Number Wann! Everybody
clap, ’cause the CODA Man’s on.
>> We want to welcome Windell Smith, supporter and volunteer of
CODA365. Hello, Windell.
>> Hello.
>> Well, tell us the mission of CODA365.
>> Well, the mission of CODA365 is that we are the children of Deaf
adults, and we want to promote pride in that, in our cultural
identity, and to encourage other CODAs who are children of Deaf adults
to use the native language of their parents. And that’s American Sign
Language. American Sign Language is a beautiful language. And it
should be adopted into the family’s communication, regardless if the
child can hear or if the child is Deaf. CODA365 is a network. We
want to support all CODAs, regardless of age, to promote education,
awareness, and respect for American Sign Language and the unique
culture that’s a major part of our identity. We do that with shows,
workshops — just an endless amount of resources that we’re building
up right now, to provide the support that’s needed. For more
information, you can go to CODA365.org.
>> Windell, thanks for being with us.
>> Thank you for having me.
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>> Hi, I’m with Emilia Lorenti, with the Sign Language Access, Inc.
Emilia, how are you today?
>> I’m doing wonderful. Thank you for asking.
>> Sure. We were talking recently, and I wanted to share with your
listeners who the ADA is, or what the ADA is.
>> The Americans with Disabilities Act is an act that was passed 20
years ago, which — actually, we’re celebrating the anniversary this
year, and it provides Deaf people with the right to have a Sign
Language interpreter, basically anywhere, at any time.
>> All right. So there’s a special law passing, from what I
understand, or a special anniversary of the law that’s passing. Can
you tell us a little bit about that?
>> It is. Right now this year is the 20th anniversary of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, and everybody’s celebrating right
now, because it’s 20 years since Deaf people have the right to have
interpreters and access to the world.
>> All right, so the law is already passed. I guess I’m being
corrected there. I didn’t realize that. So that’s a pretty exciting
thing. Not being a Deaf person, and not understanding or knowing
anything about this in the past, that’s a pretty big deal right now.
>> Oh, yes. Absolutely.
>> 20 years! That’s an amazing thing. All right. Who actually needs
an interpreter?
>> I would say everybody does. Anywhere from a hospital to anyone
who’s going to hire a Deaf person. So basically every business does
need a Sign Language interpreter for their Deaf constituents.
>> And how do people find out about it? Surely there’s a way on the
internet to access that information.
>> Yeah, they can visit our site, which is at www.needinterpreter.com,
and that’ll bring them to our business, and we provide video remote
interpreting, and we provide live community interpreters.
>> Fantastic, Emilia. Thanks for joining us today. We really
appreciate it.
>> Y’all wave your hands. Look who’s on! It’s the CODA Man Keith,
and he’s Number Wann!
>> Welcome back to That Keith Wann Show. He’s here to help us with a
cultural bridge between the Hearing and the Deaf, with guests from the
American Sign Language community and others who are here to share,
encourage, and to teach. Now let’s get back to the show. It’s That
Keith Wann Show on Toginet. And here again is your host, Keith Wann.

KEITH: And coming back from break, Sean, as you know, social media is
the way to get our message out there. Do you have a Facebook or
Twitter account that we can get more information about tonight’s

SEAN (interpreter): Yes. And I’d like to have Linda respond to that.

LINDA (interpreter): You can check on Facebook and Twitter. And also
as part of that, we want everybody to send letters to the legislature
and the governor in Albany. We’re also planning a huge rally on
March 10th. People will be leaving Fanwood at 7:00 a.m. to arrive up
the state capitol at about 10:00 a.m. We’ll be providing buses for
the school students and their family who will be attending. But
members of the community, we encourage you to come and support our
kids. You can meet us in Albany, but be there at 10:00, and we’ll
rally for about 2 hours. For further information, use
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deaf-NY-Action , and for Twitter, it’s deafnyaction, and www.deafnewyorkaction.org.

KEITH: What Deaf organizations are working together for this?

SEAN (interpreter): This is Sean. There are so many organizations
that are starting to get involved. We are thrilled. We are just sure
that most of the people will do a good job. Mostly it’s the 4201
association. They have — they’re the major stakeholders, and they
have to be concerned. The Empire State Association for the Deaf,
which is our state organization. The National Association for the
Deaf. And fourth is CEAFD. Conference of educational administrators
and schools for the Deaf. And three Universities. Gallaudet
University, CSUN, and NTID/RIT. And I could go on and on. There are
several. And with all of those people combined, we can’t lose, and we
are combining our efforts and our energy to dissuade this proposal.

ALEXIS (interpreter): This is the biggest educational — Deaf
education crisis ever to hit the United States. Because we’re dealing
with not one school, but eight schools for the Deaf in New York State.
And the whole country is looking to New York. We will be the model.
What happens here could happen elsewhere. And we could be the model
for the entire United States of America.

KEITH: And I know there are a lot of things happening out there,
there’s another crisis happening in Texas, and even Gallaudet
University is cutting back on some classes. It seems like we’re
losing our education left and right. We have a question from the
chatroom. Windell and I were talking about it in the first segment of
the show. About the feeling of isolation, as opposed to a School for
the Deaf, and somebody from the chatroom is making a statement, saying
— I wonder how much do they know that the isolation and loneliness is
gonna be for the Deaf person in a hugely dominated Hearing
environment? I myself grew up in that kind of environment ’til my
last few years. Then I finally got a normal life going to a Deaf
school. And I think that’s — there’s the human side of this. It’s
not just the budget cuts. It’s not just trying to save money. But
we’re affecting children’s lives here.

LINDA (interpreter): This is Linda. That is true. We have students
here at New York School for the Deaf who transferred here from the
mainstream schools, and they are very happy here. In this Deaf

ALEXIS (interpreter): For one, they are with peers who are just like
them. They don’t have to be different anymore. They don’t have to be
singled out. They don’t have to be the only kid who doesn’t go to the
prom. They don’t have to be the only kid that doesn’t understand the
jokes that happened in the back of the classroom.

SEAN (interpreter): Imagine… A place that you despise, and then
imagine finding this wonderful environment that you love, and now
imagine you’re gonna be forced to go back to the place that you’ve
been and despised.

LINDA (interpreter): This is Linda. I am from a Deaf family, and I
look back 30 or 40 years ago, to the Deaf community that was so strong
with our Deaf clubs, and we had sports associations. And, you know,
each year the numbers of students decrease, because of the mainstream
programs. But if this proposal goes through, and the kids go back to
the schools in their local home districts, what will happen to the
Deaf community, where we cherish our language and culture? I think in
that isolation, they will be devastated. How can they develop any
skills? Social skills, educational skills, leadership skills?

ALEXIS (interpreter): Emotional needs. How can they satisfy them?

LINDA (interpreter): We used to have so many good leaders in the Deaf
community. Our children, our Deaf children, have potential. If they
stay in schools for the Deaf, they have the ability to develop to
their fullest.

ALEXIS (interpreter): In fact, New York State has developed the most
leaders in the United States of America within the Deaf community.
This proposal will definitely kill any possibility of that happening
in the future.

SEAN (interpreter): Overall, what can you do about it? We need you
to be proactive. Don’t go by this quote — oh, other people will take
care of it for me. No. Those other people are saying oh, don’t
worry. Somebody else will take care of it. In the end, nothing will
get done. So we need you. We need you to go to the website and copy
the templates from the website. Sign your name. Email it. Just an
email. You’re just an email away. You can use the phone call. Use
your favorite VRS provider. Call the legislators. Call the governor.
Whatever it takes. Send them a letter. Let your voice be heard. We
need your support.

KEITH: And I wanna add to what you talked about, a lot of Deaf
leaders coming out of New York. And I think it’s because of all the
Deaf schools, because these children have role models. When you put
them in a mainstream environment, they’re made to feel different, that
they don’t have those role models, whereas when they go to a Deaf
school, they see that almost all the teachers there are Deaf, they see
the Deaf principals. Didn’t PS142 have a Deaf principal there for a
while? They see these role models and they strive to be those leaders

SEAN (interpreter): Actually, it’s PS47. And for example, Linda is
from a Deaf family. I’m third generation Deaf family. From the same
schools! So all the leaders that we saw inspired me, and that’s why I
am who I am today. I’ve become an advocate for the Deaf on a national

ALEXIS (interpreter): Please remember that 90% of Deaf children are
born to Hearing parents. 90%! 10% of Deaf children are born to Deaf
parents. So the majority of Deaf children don’t have full access to
communication at home. So that is where the schools play a pivotal
role in their lives and development.

KEITH: Do you have a website with a template letter that we can all
print out and send in?

SEAN (interpreter): Yes. As Linda mentioned, it’s on www.deafnyaction.org

KEITH: And we’re coming up to two minutes left of the show.
Actually, a minute left. I wanna make sure again you give out all the
emails, websites, and information you need for us to turn around and
support you.

SEAN (interpreter): This is Sean. It’s very important that you take
action now. Not tomorrow. Because the proposal will become a bill on
the floor of the legislature on March 2nd. And after March 2nd, it
will be harder for us to remove it. It won’t be over. If it happens,
and the governor’s proposal becomes a bill, we’ll have two or three
months to convince the legislature to kill the bill.

ALEXIS (interpreter): And most of the legislators don’t realize the
impact that this will have on the Deaf community, and Deaf children
and the lives of people who work with Deaf children — all they’re
seeing is dollar figures that they can save. But unfortunately, those
dollars that they think they’re gonna save are not real. There are no
savings to be had.

KEITH: We have five seconds. We need to end the show.

LINDA (interpreter): Please take the opportunity to go to Albany for
the rally, on March 10th. See you in Albany at 10:00 a.m. Thank you
for your support.

KEITH: Thank you, Arlene.

SEAN (interpreter): Thank you, Keith.

>> Y’all wave your hands. Look who’s on! It’s the CODA Man Keith,
and he’s Number Wann!
>> Now, you might think Wann’s youth was sad, because he had a Deaf
dear mummy and dad. But that ain’t the case. It wasn’t his fate.
No, the Wanns never struggled to communicate! Wann don’t trip, man.
Never had a choice. So he transformed hands right into great voice.
Deaf Brother Wann make many peeps laugh. Now the kids want to get
Wann hot autograph!
>> Y’all wave your hands. Look who’s on! It’s the CODA Man Keith,
and he’s Number Wann!
>> Thank you for being a part of That Keith Wann Show on Toginet.com.
Join us every Wednesday evening at 8/7 Central for more from that CODA
Man, Keith Wann. Keith is all about building Cultural Bridges that
enhance understanding and establish trust between communities. Keith
will have guests on each week, sharing their experiences, expertise,
opinions, and personal lives with all of us to help us understand
others. The topics and guests will come from the American Sign
Language community or outsider guests who can share information
bringing more awareness that can benefit us all. Guests will include
ASL performing artists, interpreters, teachers, and other ASL
community members. For more information on Keith and the show, go to
his website: KeithWann.com. Then join us here again next week and
listen with an open mind and willingness to learn, and help with that
cultural bridge. It’s That Keith Wann Show. Wednesday nights at 8/7
central on Toginet.com.
Keith Wann
“America’s Funniest ASL Comedian – www.KeithWann.com”

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